8 Packaging Must-Reads from the First Quarter of 2020

Coronavirus-related news has been driving readership on practically every media platform for the past month. But looking back at the first three months of this year, several other topics also made our list of most-read articles here.

Among the top eight Packaging Digest articles for the first quarter of 2020, food packaging and beverage packaging were recurring themes. Packaging design, sustainable packaging, and branding also were compelling topics for our readers.

Based on page views from January 1 to March 31, 2020, here are the eight articles readers have read most on PackagingDigest.com (in reverse order):


8. 12 Snack Packages Echo Consumer Trends

Consumers like snacking, and packaging professionals like reading about snack packaging. A dozen examples of snack packs shine a light on the shift to portioned, portable packaging; healthy snacking; and indulgence. Here are the 12 packages:

• Pepperidge Farm elevates the image of its popular Milano cookies with an elegant multipack tub that makes it easy to grab an indulgent snack and go.

• Antioxidant Supreme Wholesome Nuts from Daily Fresh come packed in multiple package formats (single-serve fin-sealed bags and multi-serve reclosable stand-up pouches) to address different consumption occasions. Vivid single-ingredient images pop on pouches and cartons.

• Enlightened’s Bada Bean Bada Boom brand of roasted broad (fava) beans, packed in 100-calorie, color-coded pouches, uses text-centric package graphics that are as bold as the snack’s flavors.

• Amazon-branded Wickedly Prime nuts provide ecommerce-shopping convenience, with a price break on subscription orders. Clean graphics on a white background communicate a simple ingredients list.

• That’s it-brand fruit bars use package graphics to let consumers know the product contains only two ingredients, and healthy ones, at that. The clean graphics feature one ingredient on top and one on the bottom of wraps and cartons.

• Mario Camacho pitted olives in an easy-open notched pouch offer a 100-calorie snack wherever and whenever. The pouch contains 1.05-oz of olives (sans juice), for a mess-free experience.

• A multipack paperboard box protects fragile Keto-diet-friendly Parmesan Crisps. Brand owner Proudly Pure uses chalkboard-style package graphics to evoke specials on a restaurant board.

• Gluten-free HIPPeas chickpea puffs are packed in color-coded bags with graphics depicting their lip-licking tastiness. The crunchy snacks are Certified USDA Organic.

• Shelf-stable P3 protein snacks from Planters complement the brand’s refrigerated varieties, providing an on-the-go snacking option that can be tossed in a tote bag, purse, or briefcase.

• Sugarfina fills reusable coffee tumblers with sealed bags of coffee-infused gummy bears. The concept is part cold-brew coffee, part sweet treat.

• The Rap Snacks bag, which holds 2.75-oz of potato chips, costs nearly $8. But it comes with more than a snack: Consumers can scan the back of the bag for a chance to win an unreleased song from a hip-hop artist.

• Convenient, shelf-stable Jack Link’s Combos pair meat and cheese sticks in one package. It’s the perfect addition to a lunchbox or backpack.

CLICK NEXT BELOW: Wine-packaging innovations


Curious to see the top articles from just last month, March 2020? For the last couple weeks of the month, most of the world was consumed by a flood of news about the coronavirus pandemic. PackagingDigest.com has been covering the impacts on the packaging community. But the packaging community’s focus for the full month centered on trends in foods, beverages, and sustainability.

Based on page views, here are the five best-read articles for March 2020:

1. 8 Dramatic Ways Wine Packaging Innovates (also in the top list of 1Q2020)

2. Most Food Cans No Longer Use BPA in Their Linings(also in the top list of 1Q2020)

3. 12 Snack Packages Echo Consumer Trends(also in the top list of 1Q2020)

4. Packaging and Food Waste: Insights and Advice

5. 5 Sustainable Packaging Trends to Look Out for in 2020 (also in the top list of 1Q2020)


7. 8 Dramatic Ways Wine Packaging Innovates

Placing seventh in the first quarter, this roundup was also the most-read article in March 2020. It showcased wine packaging innovations ranging from a flat glass bottle to a near-field communication (NFC)-enabled closure. The eight wine packages are:

• KinsBrae PortaVino’s 250-mL aluminum bottle, which was designed specifically for wine. KinsBrae Packaging supplies the recyclable bottle, which is suitable for picnics and pool-side sipping.

Winerytale has developed a augmented reality (AR) smartphone app that boosts consumer engagement with more than 10,000 American wine brands. The app uses artificial intelligence to recognize the label and AR to showcase the story behind the wine. Content is streamed from the cloud.

• Flat Wines, from UK-based Delivering Happiness, trading as Garçon Wines, is bending the rules of wine bottling with a flat 750-mL bottle that fits through residential mail slots — a savvy package design for ecommerce sales. The bottle is made from 100% food-grade, post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

• California wine brand Böen, from Copper Cane Wines & Provisions, partnered with Guala Closures and SharpEnd to launch the first NFC-enabled wine bottles in the United States. Consumers tap the bottle’s NFC-integrated aluminum closure with a smartphone to access information about the wine. Italy’s Vigneti Massa wine estate also uses NFC closures to provide exclusive digital content to consumers and to fight counterfeiting.

• Zardetto is using peel-back labels on Prosecco bottles to showcase colorful artwork and deliver fun Italian greetings and expressions, which are also translated into English. The brand comes via Leonardo LoCascio Selections, a division of Winebow Imports dedicated to premium Italian wines.

Avery Dennison Label and Packaging Materials has added to its Wine & Spirits Portfolio six new facestocks that provide a premium look, finish, and feel. The materials are made using sustainable materials such as cotton, hemp, and citrus.

• Six new glass wine-bottle designs from Ardagh Group, Glass – North America feature unique shapes and textures to engage consumers. Three 375-mL single-serving bottles are included in the mix.

• The height of innovation (so to speak) was the launch of a dozen glass bottles of red wine, secured in protective containers, to the International Space Station (ISS). Space Cargo Unlimited, a start-up, launched the shipment from Cape Canaveral, FL, to the ISS last November. The bottles will age in space for one year before returning to Earth.

CLICK NEXT BELOW: Top sustainable packaging trends


6. 5 Sustainable Packaging Trends to Look Out for in 2020

In this article, Tristanne Davis, a senior manager with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), identifies five of this year’s top sustainable packaging trends:

1. More sustainable packaging goals and action plans. Most companies with sustainability goals have committed to achieve them by 2025 or 2030. Based on that timeline, 2020 represents a turning point for action.

2. Companies innovate to boost end markets for recycled plastics, with attention to recycled content, improved processing of used plastics for reuse, and chemical-recycling collaborations.

3. Brands replace substrates to meet recovery goals. Replacements include paper-based materials as well as other recyclable, compostable, and even edible substrates.

4. Companies start taking reusable packaging more seriously. Blue Bottle Coffee and Unilever are scaling up reuse and refill business models, and ecommerce startups are developing closed-loop logistics models that work beyond business-to-business sales.

5. Health becomes a more important consideration for packaging materials. The How2Recycle labeling program announced that any packaging that contains intentionally added per- and/or poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, will be labeled as Not Yet Recycled. The scientific community is calling into question the health impacts of short-chain PFAS, and companies are being pressed on downplaying health risks.

CLICK NEXT BELOW: Packaging careers to consider


5. 10 Hottest Careers in the Consumer Packaging Industry

Casey Heigl, marketing manager for Hotmelt.com, explores the range of consumer packaging jobs to create a list of the top 10:

1. Packaging engineer: This is the ideal choice for those who excel in math, chemistry, physics, and technology — and also have an eye for design and a keen sense of industry trends.

2. Package designer: These professionals often work closely with copywriters, the marketing team, and engineers to create packages that will stand out on-shelf. 

3. Consumer behavior analyst: Using research tools such as focus groups, surveys, and studies, consumer behavior analysts study market trends. A strong background in statistics and research is useful in this role.

4. Packaging specialist:Working in-house or as consultants, packaging specialists are experts on different types of packaging materials, adhesives, labels, and packaging technologies. They have the skills to craft a packaging plan that’s tailored to the package’s unique contents.

5. Packaging operator: This job focuses on how packaging is made, including machinery testing, development of packaging production systems, and repairing equipment on a packaging line.

6. Product tester: Packaging requires testing to make sure high-quality product comes off the production line. These employees determine whether a package as a whole is well-suited to the product, climate, and other conditions.

7. Food scientist: Determining the best packaging for foods and beverages, vis-à-vis criteria like shelf life and flavor profile, is a key part of the job for these essential consumer-packaging professionals.

8. Assembly line worker:Many entry-level packing jobs require minimal experience and are a great starting point for individuals who want a career in packaging.

9. Compliance manager: This professional ensures that packaging adheres to industry regulations and laws. Tasks may include outlining warning labels, ingredient lists, and notices for incorporation into packaging designs.

10. Packaging buyer: This role exists within large organizations. Packaging buyers ensure that the materials specified by the packaging engineer are of the appropriate quality and within the company’s budget.

CLICK NEXT BELOW: Branding and packaging trends to keep an eye on


4. 5 Branding and Packaging Trends for 2020

Josh White, principal and creative director of New York City-based brand and design agency OffWhite Co, wrote about the branding and packaging trends that will shape consumer goods packaging in 2020 and beyond. The five trends are:

1. Sustainable packaging: Leaders are already offering edible wrappers for individually wrapped foods, and more zero-waste packaging concepts are on the way. These include water-soluble packaging and compostable wine bottles.

2. Transparency with consumers: Companies will address consumer demand for honesty about ingredients and how products are made by using clear label language, transparent packaging materials, and see-through cut-outs that reveal what’s inside the pack.

3. Sophistication: Packaging designs will more frequently feature brand elements typically seen in the worlds of finance, real estate, and law. Companies will also increasingly use strong, uncluttered messaging in simple yet sophisticated colors and large type to communicate trust and respect.

4. Consistency: We’ll see new and innovative packaging structures that support consistent brand values across product lines. Brand, packaging, and industry goals will start to come together in a unified brand expression.

5. Tech-centric: The beverage industry is an early leader in the development of “smart-tech ready” packaging that enables consumers to interact with the pack using mobile apps and technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID).

CLICK NEXT BELOW: Food industry says bye-bye to BPA


3. Most Food Cans No Longer Use BPA in Their Linings

This widely read Q&A, which posted on PackagingDigest.com in February 2018, features Can Manufacturers Institute president Robert Budway answering questions about BPA-based can linings. He revealed that at least 90% of today’s food cans have replaced linings that previously contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).

“Can makers and can lining companies take very seriously our responsibility to provide safe, quality packaging that consumers trust. Safety is our number one priority and we’re proud to contribute to a healthy, affordable food supply in a way that reduces food waste and respects the environment,” Budway said.

This article has appeared on our most-read lists many times since it posted. It was the second-most-read article in March 2020.

NEXT: Food/beverage packaging trends for 2020


2. 6 Food and Beverage Packaging Trends That Will Dominate 2020

Pamela Webber, chief marketing officer at 99designs, wrote about the trends that will shape food and beverage packaging this year. The six hottest trends are:

1. Metamorphoses: In a metamorphosis, one design element transforms into another, creating an optical illusion that adds visual interest and draws consumers in to view the more intricate details of the packaging. The resulting package design makes a statement and stands apart from the competition.

2. Maximalism and rich, heavily detailed packaging: More consumers are seeking a sense of opulence, luxury, and extravagance in their products. That’s why luxurious, attention-grabbing, intensely colored, detail-rich packs will be all the rage in 2020.

3. Retro-futurism: This trend refers to a combination of design elements evoking nostalgia (retro) and positive anticipation (futurism) in the same packaging design.

4. Ecologically aware packaging: Brands are exploring more eco-friendly materials, moving toward packaging that’s easily recyclable and/or minimizing the amount of materials necessary for their packaging design. Some are forgoing packaging altogether.

5. Transparent packaging: See-through packaging, like that used for beauty and skincare products, will experience a surge this year for food and beverage products.

6. Neatly structured layouts: This packaging trend is focused on how a brand’s selected typography is used within the broader design. Unique, interesting font combinations and easy readability are hallmarks of the approach.

CLICK NEXT BELOW: When package design disappoints


1. A Dozen Packaging Designs that Missed the Mark

This article, which also topped the most-read list for PackagingDigest.com in February 2020, takes a look at reader reactions to 12 new or redesigned packages. Here are the designs that those packaging professionals objected to, for a plethora of reasons:

Lipton tea bag box
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise squeeze bottle
Tropicana multi-serve PET bottle
SeaPak shrimp bag
Conagra’s Healthy Choice Café Steamers
Quaker Overnight Oats
Orbit gum package structure
Hill’s Science Diet
Benadryl topical gel bottle
Walmart compliance pack
Coty/Clairol Nice’n Easy redesign
Old Spice PET bottles

These examples study the interplay between packaging aesthetics and functionality, and how it affects the final packaging design. They also demonstrate how easy it is — even for skilled, successful packaging designers — to miss the mark.



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